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Decline to State

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Abstract:

This Article explores the rise of a growing new constituency in the pool of law school applicants: students who exercise the option to “decline to state” race. A small but steady current in the larger stream of law school applicants in the 1990s, recent years have seen the number of “decline to state” students’ increase precipitously. As the group has become a larger share of law students (and indeed lawyers), legal educators must think more deeply about what a law student’s exercise of the “decline to state” option means, as these students’ resistance to the idea of racial naming likely will have serious implications for diversity education efforts at law schools and, by extension, the legal profession’s ability to reach it’s diversity goals. I argue that, thus far, law schools have been largely content to ignore the “decline to state” phenomenon, but long term, students’ silence about race will prove extremely costly. However, before sounding the alarm for changes in legal education, we have an obligation to consider more carefully what the symbolic act of “declining to state” means. To this end, my Article, using insights cleaned from research in sociology and social psychology, identifies four distinct student groups that may exercise the “decline to state option.” The discussion explores the specific pedagogical challenges presented by each group, and offers some preliminary suggestions as to how educators might engage these students in conversations about diversity.
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Name: The Law and Society Association
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http://www.lawandsociety.org


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p329126_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Rich, Camille. "Decline to State" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The Law and Society Association, Grand Hyatt, Denver, Colorado, May 25, 2009 <Not Available>. 2013-12-12 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p329126_index.html>

APA Citation:

Rich, C. G. , 2009-05-25 "Decline to State" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The Law and Society Association, Grand Hyatt, Denver, Colorado <Not Available>. 2013-12-12 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p329126_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: This Article explores the rise of a growing new constituency in the pool of law school applicants: students who exercise the option to “decline to state” race. A small but steady current in the larger stream of law school applicants in the 1990s, recent years have seen the number of “decline to state” students’ increase precipitously. As the group has become a larger share of law students (and indeed lawyers), legal educators must think more deeply about what a law student’s exercise of the “decline to state” option means, as these students’ resistance to the idea of racial naming likely will have serious implications for diversity education efforts at law schools and, by extension, the legal profession’s ability to reach it’s diversity goals. I argue that, thus far, law schools have been largely content to ignore the “decline to state” phenomenon, but long term, students’ silence about race will prove extremely costly. However, before sounding the alarm for changes in legal education, we have an obligation to consider more carefully what the symbolic act of “declining to state” means. To this end, my Article, using insights cleaned from research in sociology and social psychology, identifies four distinct student groups that may exercise the “decline to state option.” The discussion explores the specific pedagogical challenges presented by each group, and offers some preliminary suggestions as to how educators might engage these students in conversations about diversity.

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